Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Nigeria Hedging Its Bets With Sweet Sorghum

Nigeria is better known for its petroleum reserves--and the troubles revolving around them--than its biofuels leadership. But Global Biofuels Limited, a company with headquarters in Lagos State, plans to expand biofuels in Nigeria using sweet sorghum.
Babatunde Obilana, director of the company, said the process of refining the crop involved three stages: "Crushing to produce a sugary juice; fermentation to convert the sugary juice into ethanol" and the utilisation of what he called "bagasse" (gotten from the dried stalks of the crop), which he said, could be used as a renewable energy source for electricity and serve as fertiliser in farms. _NextEnergyNews
Global Biofuels is using feedstock from India, as well as developing new strains of sweet sorghum within Nigeria. Currently large plots are being cleared in preparation for planting in time to begin harvesting within 18 months.

Both sweet sorghum and grain sorghum offer improvements over both cane and maize ethanol--in terms of wider growing climates and much less water and cultivation required. Sorghum and cassava both seem particularly well suited to the wide range of soil and climatic conditions found in Africa.

In Africa, small, local solutions to problems is by far the best approach. Larger mega-plantations--as in palm oil plantations--tend to be environmentally disruptive and subject to looting by government officials and ragtag warlord/militia groups. By providing small farmers, villages, and local regions with the means of energy self-sufficiency plus a ready cash crop, you are empowering the continent from the bottom levels up.

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2 Comments:

Blogger J. Paige said...

Agriculture is always disruptive in the ecosystem. It diverts primary productivity away from nature pathways to the purpose of man. Big fields of sorghum planted for transportation fuel is a glaring example.

5:40 AM  
Blogger al fin said...

And yet man is part of nature, an animal who has learned to use tools, harness fire, and tame other animals. If a person cannot accept the presence of man on the Earth, perhaps he should join the voluntary human extinction movement?

Of course, for anyone who actually belongs to the VHEM, the first step after joining should probably be to commit suicide.

7:33 AM  

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